Swallowing Food Problems Involved in the Aging Process
(1/3/06)- The aging process is indeed a difficult process to pass through. Things that youdid without giving even a second thought to when you are younger can become more difficult to do as you age. Even something as simple as swallowing becomes more difficult as you get along in years.
Back on July 20, 2004, Jane Brody wrote an article in the New York Times entitled: "When Swallowing Food Becomes a Problem". The swallowing problem, called by its medical name of dysphagia, is becoming more and more of a problem for people over 50 years of age.
Symptoms of this problem include dry eyes, dry mouth and teeth that rot and break in addition to difficulty in swallowing solids or liquids. According to Ms. Brody, one person in seventeen will develop this problem in their lifetime. She goes on to state: "Choking, coughing or regurgitating small amounts after swallowing are other symptoms" .
"Dysphagia can result from any disorder that weakens or injures the nerves or muscles involved in swallowing. The causes include neuromuscular problems like strokes, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), myasthenia gravis, brain injury, Parkinson's disease, post-polio syndrome and Alzheimer's disease."
The problem can also arise from weakening of the esophageal muscles because of age. Medications taken over long periods of time also can lead to this problem. Chronic heartburn or GERD, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause this problem.
"Diagnosing and treating dysphagia is often a team effort involving gastroenterologists, otolaryngologists, radiologists, neurologists and speech and language pathologists who specialize in dysphagia" according to Ms. Brody.
Once the problem has been diagnosed proper treatment can begin. If the problem is being caused by GERD, medication can be taken to counteract the stomach acid. Certain types of foods and drinks will have to be eliminated.
Swallowing therapy which involves lip and tongue exercises is another quiver in the method of treatment of the disease. Each cause of the disease has its own method for treatment, so consult your doctor as to which method he or she would recommend.
FOR AN INFORMATIVE AND PERSONAL ARTICLE ON PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS WHEN SELECTING A NURSING HOME SEE OUR ARTICLE "Selecting a Nursing Home"
posted January 3, 2006
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